Territoriality and Horticulture

A Perspective for Prehistoric Southern New England
  • Mitchell T. Mulholland
Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


Several archaeologists in southern New England have observed that during the Archaic period of gathering and hunting in the Northeast, between approximately 10,000 and 3,000 years ago, sites proliferated in the interior and were located in a variety of environmental zones (Dincauze 1974; Thorbahn et al. 1980). These studies further suggest, on the basis of subregional site distributions, that prehistoric people abandoned the interior at the beginning of the Woodland period, 3,000 years ago, and shifted the focus of their subsistence to the coastal zone. This paper evaluates the validity of these propositions and attempts to answer the question: why did prehistoric land use shift in focus from a diversity of habitats throughout southern New England to the major river valleys and coastal areas, once horticulture became an important element in the subsistence mix? Archaeological site distributions from southern New England for the past 12,000 years are used to evaluate geographic changes in land use, while documentary evidence written by European observers of Native Americans is used to compare differences in territoriality and land use between gatherer-hunters and foraging horticulturalists.


Coastal Zone Arable Land Settlement Pattern Coastal Resource Subsistence Strategy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitchell T. Mulholland
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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